Boyish da Vinci and van Gogh have special relationships with friends Michelangelo and Gauguin.
The Japanese anime and video game industries often turn their eyes to history when designing characters that they hope will turn audiences’ eyes to their titles. Thus we have franchises such as Kantai Collection (historical warships reimagined as schoolgirls), Touken Ranbu (historical swords reimagined as hot guys), and Uma Musume (historical race horses reimagined as idol singers).
And now comes an idea that, in hindsight, seems obvious; taking artistic inspiration from historical artists. Palette Parade, a currently in-development smartphone and PC game from developer Silicon Studio puts the player in the role of a woman who answers a help-wanted ad from the Palette Art Museum, and who ends up working alongside a reverse harem of handsome young men based on some of history’s most influential Western painters as they attempt to turn around their underperforming institution.
So far, four characters have been announced, starting with Vincent van Gogh, “The Painter Who Burns with Passion.”
▼ Van Gogh, naturally, has a hairstyle that covers his left ear.
Van Gogh, whose goal is to “make everyone smile like sunflowers” through his paintings, is described as energetic, but also as someone who can’t be talked out of something once he makes up his mind, and also as having a special bond with his pal Paul Gauguin, mirroring the cordial relationship between the two real-life artists.
Any romantic video game needs a variety of personality types to appeal to the widest possible fanbase, and so diametrically opposing van Gogh is Gustave Courbet, “The Delusion-Hating Realist,” a cool-headed and logical painter who refuses to paint anything he hasn’t seen with his own eyes.
The image of Leonardo da Vinci that most people have in their mind’s eye is of an elderly bearded man. Palette Parade turns this idea on its head by depicting him as an effeminate “Smiling Genius Boy,” a child prodigy with talents in myriad fields. Calm and caring (and also an anachronism, as he was born four centuries before the other announced characters), da Vinci’s character profile also says that he has a different side of himself that he only shows to Michelangelo.
And finally, the last character to be revealed so far is Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “The Fun-Loving Man Whose Policy Is to Take It Easy.” Cheerful and at ease, Renoir sometimes bewilders those around him with his unguarded manner of speaking, and is friends with his classmates Claude Monet and Frederic Bazille.
Three more characters are set to join the cast, who can be seen in the promotional image at the top of this article. While their names haven’t been revealed, Michelangelo, Gauguin, Monet and Bazile all seem like likely candidates, given their mentions in the other characters’ bios.
Palette Parade is slated for a summer 2018 release, which is an unusual amount of lead-up time for the launch of a smartphone game. Given the art style, though, related projects, such as anime and manga adaptations, as well as merchandise, are probably also things the producers are working on, and besides, as any of these characters would tell you, great art takes time.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where Renoir’s two-toned hair has him thinking the French painter just came from Macross Delta.